Kenya: Ruto Releases Secret Railway Loan Agreement

Kenya’s transport minister has made public documents about a massive Kenyan railway project signed with China after years of secrecy.

The $3bn (£2.6bn) Chinese-funded and operated railway line is Kenya’s biggest infrastructure project since independence in 1963.

Its viability has been repeatedly questioned since it was launched.

The line runs between the port city of Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi, and there are plans to extend it to the port city of Kisumu in the west.

Publicising details of the railway’s loan agreements was one of President William Ruto’s campaign promises in order to end speculation among Kenyans on what the government signed on their behalf.

In a tweet on Sunday, minister Kipchumba Murkomen said copies of the agreement had been given to the majority leaders in Kenya’s parliament and also shared with the media.

The agreements were signed by the Kenyan government, represented by the national treasury, and the Export and Import (Exim) Bank of China in 2014.

Local media coverage of the released agreements indicates that the Chinese lenders were given sweeping powers. For instance, it requires arbitration of any dispute to be held in Beijing, according to the Daily Nation newspaper.

The main contractor of the project was exempted from all taxes, the Standard newspaper reports.

In 2020 the Chinese foreign ministry denied claims that the Mombasa port, one of the biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, was used as collateral in the agreement.

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